Two hundred years ago, Phi Beta Kappa (PBK) induction ceremonies were covert affairs complete with secret handshakes and rituals. Things were decidedly less secretive on April 9, when the Delta of New Jersey chapter of PBK was installed at the College and the first class of TCNJ students was inducted into the society.
Allison Blakely, president of PBK national, delivered the opening remarks at the April 9 event, calling TCNJ “an institution of remarkable excellence in the liberal arts and sciences…[and one that] embraces and upholds the highest standards of excellence in teaching and learning. ”
Following the traditional installment procedures drawn from PBK documents dating to 1776, the Delta of New Jersey chapter, as it will be known, was awarded its charter by John Churchill, secretary of PBK national. As part of
the proceedings, President R. Barbara Gitenstein was inducted as a foundation member.
Once the charter was received, 44 of TCNJ’s best and brightest students were inducted into the chapter. As is tradition, inductees signed their name into a special book, thus signifying them as official members. The chapter ’s officers—TCNJ faculty and staff who are PBK members from their own undergraduate days—then taught each inductee the “secret” handshake, which is used when PBK members greet each other.
“Phi Beta Kappa is the oldest and most prestigious honors society in the country,” said Nancy Freudenthal, assistant provost. “Membership in it is something these students will carry with them well past graduation and throughout their lives.”
The College was awarded a chapter last fall, becoming one of only 276 colleges and universities nationwide to house a chapter. Freudenthal, along with Professor of English David Venturo, were lead authors of the College ’s application.